What a wonderful day it is! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, cats and dogs are living together (sorry, I got a little greedy) and basketball season officially began for teams running The System! As Alvin would say, it is on like Donkey Kong.
Coach Doug Porter and the Olivet Nazarene Tigers opened up with a commanding 106-77 victory on the road over Aquinas College on Friday night, using a 41-9 run in the second half to pull away. You know the best part about the run, at least to my inexperienced eye? No single player took control for the Tigers, or even no two players. No three players, either, or not even one shift of five players. In that blistering run, accomplished over about 12 minutes, 12 different players scored, with Simone Coburn and Danielle Tolbert leading the way with six points apiece.
ONU made six 3s during this span and forced eight turnovers, all while moving through 12 shift changes. Yep, that's right, on 12 separate occasions, Coach Porter substituted all five players at once, keeping fresh legs on the floor while the Saints were falling behind. It is that kind of balance that could mean great things for the Tigers this season as they battle in the NAIA's Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
OK, here are the rest of the numbers: ONU finished 37-for-92 from the field, including 17-for-59 from beyond the arc, while forcing 32 turnovers. As usual, the reserves chipped in nicely, coming through with 70 of the points. Holly Schacht led the team with 16 points, followed by Coburn (14), Tolbert (12), Lexie Heinold and Malory Adam (11 each) to give the Tigers five players in double figures. Danielle Pipal have five of the team's 17 steals.
All in all, a good opener for Coach Porter and his team. Aquinas has won at least 20 games for the past four seasons - five out of the past six overall - and has qualified for the NAIA tournament four of the past five.
ONU doesn't get a chance to celebrate too much, traveling to Davenport University on Saturday for another game. I'll keep you updated.
Meanwhile, a team we haven't checked in on yet also opened up with an impressive victory Friday night. The women's team at Jackson (Mich.) Community College beat St. Clair Community College 101-89 in coach Andy Hoaglin's debut with The System. Not sure of any complete stats yet, but the Jets did force 53 turnovers!
Erika Bullock nearly had a quadruple-double, finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds, 11 steals and eight assists, while DaJana'e Wilson added 14 points, Davi'elle Thomas had 12 and Victoria Logan scored 11. In all, 14 of the Jackson CC players scored. The Jets also returned to action Saturday, facing Schoolcraft Community College, and I hope to give you the results.